STEPHEN KESHI: SUCCESS IN FOOTBALL.


Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (23 January 1962 – 7 June 2016) was a Nigerian football defender and coach. He was also a football manager of the Nigeria national team. He was one of only two people, along with Egypt's Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and a coach.

After a playing career mostly with Belgian clubs, Keshi went to the United States to be educated in coaching. In 1996 he was joined by Augustine Eguavoen, who once coached the Nigerian national team. They played together in California. Keshi has been a part of the coaching staff for the Nigerian national team, most notably as head coach for the Junior Eagles at the 2001 African Youth Championship which also served as qualification for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, without success.

Between 2004 and 2006 Keshi coached the Togo national football team, surprisingly bringing them to their first World Cup tournament, Germany 2006. Having secured Togo's unlikely qualification, he was promptly replaced by German coach Otto Pfister prior to the World Cup finals, after Togo showed a dismal performance and failed to advance to the knock-out stage in 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. However, Pfister did not last beyond a controversial World Cup campaign that nearly resulted in a player's strike over pay and Togo remained without a manager until February 2007 when they re-engaged Keshi in time for a friendly against Cameroon.

He worked as manager of the Mali national football team, after being appointed in April 2008 on a two-year deal. Keshi was sacked in January 2010, after Mali's early exit in the group stages of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

Keshi became coach of the Nigerian National Team in 2011. He led Nigeria to qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which they went on to win, defeating Burkina Faso 1–0 in the final.  Keshi led Nigeria to the 2013 Confederations Cup, defeated Tahiti6–1, and lost 1–2 to Uruguay in the second game, and also lost 0–3 to World Cup winners, Spain in their final group game.

He was one of the most patriotic citizens of Nigeria who worked relentlessly to improve the quality of coaching and success in soccer home and away.

Keshi had a heart attack and died en route to hospital on 7 June 2016 in Benin City, aged 54.